THE WHITE HOUSE

                     Office of the Press Secretary
________________________________________________________________________
					                  July 13, 2000
														 

                        REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT
        ON THE ANNOUNCEMENT OF VIETNAM BILATERAL TRADE AGREEMENT

                            The Rose Garden

4:10 P.M.

     THE PRESIDENT:  Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen.  Just a few
moments ago, Ambassador Barshefsky and Minister Vu Khoan signed an
agreement between the United States and Vietnam that will dramatically
open Vietnam's economy, further integrate it into the international
community and increase trade between our two nations.  And so from the
bitter past, we plant the seeds of a better future.

     This is another historic step in the process of normalization,
reconciliation and healing between our two nations.  Improvements in the
relationship between the United States and Vietnam have depended from
the beginning upon progress in determining the fate of Americans who did
not return from the war.

     In 1994, with the support of the members of Congress standing with
me here and others, I lifted the trade embargo on Vietnam in response to
its cooperation on the POW/MIA issue.  A year later, I normalized
diplomatic relations between our two nations to further this goal.  As
further progress was made in 1996, I appointed former Congressman Pete
Peterson -- himself, a former prisoner of war -- to be our United States
Ambassador in Vietnam.

     With the indispensable help of key congressional allies, especially
Senator John Kerry and Senator John McCain, Senator Bob Kerrey and
Senator Chuck Hagel and Senator Chuck Robb; Representative Rick Boucher,
Representative Reyes, who is here, Representative Manzullo,
Representatives Lane Evans, Kolbe, Bereuter and McDermott, this process
has worked.

     Since 1993, we have undertaken 39 joint recovery operations with
Vietnam, and the number of 40 is underway as we speak.  One hundred and
thirty-five American families have received the remains of their loved
ones, and we're in the process of identifying another 150 possible sets
of remains.  Time and again, the Vietnamese people have shared their
memories with Americans.  And we, too, have sought to help Vietnam in
its own search for answers.

     Our nation has also felt a special sense of responsibility to those
people in Vietnam whose families were torn apart during and after the
war.  In the last few years, we've made tremendous progress in
resettling tens of thousands of Vietnamese refugees in the United
States, closing yet another painful chapter.

     And Vietnam has done much to turn its face toward a changing world.
It has worked to open its economy and move into the mainstream of
Southeast Asia as a member of the Association of Southeast Asian nations
and APEC.  Our trading relations have also grown.  When I took office
our exports to Vietnam totaled just $4 million.  Today, they stand at
$291 million.

     The agreement we signed today will dramatically open Vietnam's
markets on everything from agriculture to industrial goods to
telecommunications products, while creating jobs both in Vietnam and in
the United States.

     With this agreement, Vietnam has agreed to speed its opening to the
world; to subject important decisions to the rule of law and the
international trading system; to increase the flow of information to its
people; by inviting competition in, to accelerate the rise of a free
market economy and the private sector within Vietnam, itself.  We hope
expanded trade will go hand in hand with strength and respect for human
rights and labor standards.  For we live in an age where wealth is
generated by the free exchange of ideas and stability depends on
democratic choices.  By signing this agreement, Vietnam takes an
important step in the right direction.

     We've been working on this agreement since 1996, and there are many
people who deserve recognition.  I want to say a special thanks to our
Trade Representative, Ambassador Barshefsky; our Deputy USTR, Richard
Fisher; Joe Damond, of USTR, for working so hard in the last four years
to turn this agreement into reality.

     I would also like to thank their Vietnamese counterparts:  Trade
Minister Vu Khoan; Chief Negotiator Nguyen Dinh Luong.  And I want to
say a special word of thanks also to Vietnamese Ambassador La Van Bang
and to our Ambassador Pete Peterson, who have worked so hard to build
ties among our nations and our people.

     And let me say, again, it is my opinion that none of this would
have been possible had it not been for the visionary and brave and
reconciling leadership of the Americans in the United States Congress
who served, many of whom suffered, in Vietnam; especially those who are
here with me and the others whose names I mentioned earlier.  Our debt
to them as a nation is immense.

     This agreement is one more reminder that former adversaries can
come together to find common ground in a way that benefits all their
people, to let go of the past and embrace the future, to forgive and to
reconcile.  As all of you know, that is what we are now trying to
achieve at Camp David in what many believe is the most difficult of all
historical circumstances.

     This day is encouraging to me, and I will take the energy I feel
here from all these people back to Camp David and make the argument that
they should follow suit.  Thank you very much.

    

                           END 4:16 P.M. EDT